Web service

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A web service is typically an application programming interface (API) or Web API that is accessed via Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) and executed on a remote system, hosting the requested service. Web services tend to fall into one of two camps: big web services[1] and RESTful web services.

The W3C defines a "web service" as "a software system designed to support interoperable machine-to-machine interaction over a network. It has an interface described in a machine-processable format (specifically Web Services Description Language WSDL). Other systems interact with the web service in a manner prescribed by its description using SOAP messages, typically conveyed using HTTP with an XML serialization in conjunction with other Web-related standards."[2]

The W3C also states, "We can identify two major classes of Web services, REST-compliant Web services, in which the primary purpose of the service is to manipulate XML representations of Web resources using a uniform set of "stateless" operations; and arbitrary Web services, in which the service may expose an arbitrary set of operations."[3]

Contents

Big web services

"Big web services" use Extensible Markup Language (XML) messages that follow the SOAP standard and have been popular with traditional enterprise. In such systems, there is often a machine-readable description of the operations offered by the service written in the Web Services Description Language (WSDL). The latter is not a requirement of a SOAP endpoint, but it is a prerequisite for automated client-side code generation in many Java and .NET SOAP frameworks (frameworks such as Spring, Apache Axis2 and Apache CXF being notable exceptions). Some industry organizations, such as the WS-I, mandate both SOAP and WSDL in their definition of a web service.

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